Blue-gray Noddy

Blue-gray Noddy

webpage header of blue-gray noddy


  • Common: Blue-gray Noddy
  • Scientific: Procelsterna cerulean

Conservation Status

  • State recognized as Indigenous
  • NatureServe Heritage Rank G4 – Apparently secure
  • North American Waterbird Conservation Plan – High concern
  • Regional Seabird Conservation Plan – USFWS 2005

Species Information

The blue-gray noddy or Necker Island tern is the world’s smallest tern (Family: Laridae) and is widely distributed across the Pacific. Five subspecies are recognized, and one (P. c. saxatilis), is resident in Hawai‘i. Adult males and females are entirely bluish gray and have a partial white eye-ring, a short, slender bill, and a shallow forked tail. Flight is characterized by constant and rapid wing beats. The blue-gray noddy feeds nearshore, often with other species, by hover-dipping and surface-dipping. The species captures the smallest prey of any Hawaiian seabird, mainly larval lizardfishes, flounders, goatfishes, and flyingfish, as well as squid, crustaceans, and insects. Blue-gray noddies use a variety of substrates for nesting. In Hawai‘i, they nest in aggregations among cavities or crevices in lava flows. In Hawai‘i, nesting appear to occur throughout the year, and eggs have been found March through September. Little is known about the breeding behavior or biology of the blue-gray noddy. The oldest known bird was 11 years old, but blue-gray noddies likely live longer.


Blue-gray noddies breed mainly on Necker and Nihoa, but small colonies also are present on La Perouse Pinnacle, French Frigate Shoals, and Gardner Pinnacles. Historically the species bred on Ka‘ula Island off of Ni‘ihau. Outside of Hawai‘i, blue-gray noddies nest on islands throughout the Pacific Ocean. Blue-gray noddies typically remain near their breeding colonies year-round, and are rarely found far from land.


Terrestrial: Blue-gray noddies breed on remote islands and atolls. They nest on a variety of substrates, but in NHWI mostly use crevices or cavities in ancient lava flows. Currently all breeding colonies in Hawai‘i occur in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge or the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Marine: Nearshore waters.


  • Introduced predators. Like all seabirds, adults and nests are susceptible to predation by rats (Rattus spp.), and feral cats (Felis silvestris). All sites in NWHI are free of rats and cats.
  • Native predators. On Nihoa and Laysan, native finches (Telespiza spp.) are responsible for considerable egg mortality.

Plans & Projects 

Additional Resources 

For more information and references visit the DLNR State Wildlife Action Plan factsheets. DOFAWʻs species pages and State Wildlife Action Plan fact sheets are provided for general information and are not meant to be a citable, original source of data. If you are a student, researcher, or writer looking for a citable source, please explore the references below or find other original data sources, rather than citing these webpages. The references below were provided by the authors of the State Wildlife Action Plan fact sheets at the time of drafting:

  • Kushlan JA, et al. 2002. Waterbird Conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, Version 1 Waterbird Conservation for the Americas, Washington, DC. 78pp. Available at: 
  • NatureServe. 2003. Downloadable animal data sets. NatureServe Central Databases. Available at: (March 10, 2005).
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2005. Regional seabird conservation plan, Pacific Region. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, Pacific Region. Portland, (OR): U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.